David Moyes may not have done as much January transfer business as he would have liked, but he has started February feeling like he has a double signing to lift Sunderland.
Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong were back in his squad on Tuesday night from Africa Cup of Nations duty.
The two of them played well and I hope they continue.
And the duo were both superb on their return as the Black Cats battled their way through to a 0-0 draw with Tottenham.
Kone was outstanding in a back three with Jason Denayer and captain John O’Shea, while Ndong was a dynamo in the midfield.
Moyes hopes the pair, refreshed from a break away from the grind of Premier League and FA Cup action last month, will be key players in the rest of the top-flight programme.
“They looked a bit fresher,” said the manager, who this week signed Darron Gibson and Bryan Oviedo from Everton, joining another new face in Joleon Lescott..
“It’s a bit like they’ve been away on holiday.
“I’m not saying Lamine and Didier have been on holiday! But they have been away for a while and they have come back with a bit of freshness about them rather than being drained by all the games all the time.”
Kone has every reason to feel refreshed.
The powerhouse defender did not play in the African tournament.
After damaging his hamstring in the New Year’s Eve defeat at Burnley, Kone did not feature in any of Ivory Coast’s three group games before his country made an early exit.
But he showed no ring-rust against a very gifted Spurs front line of Harry Kane, Dele Ali and Heung min-Son.
Ndong was, arguably, man of the match - though there were no shortage of candidates - as he carried on from where he left off in his previous Cats appearance, against Liverpool one month ago.
Just as he did against the Reds, he took up advanced positions again, while getting through a tremendous amount of defensive work as the hosts hung on for a point.
“The two of them played well and I hope they continue,” added Moyes.